Fighting Gum Disease
By Jim Martinez
More than 75 percent of Americans over 35 have some form of gum disease. What is gum disease? The term gum disease or periodontal disease, describes bacterial growth and production of factors that gradually destroy the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth.
Gum disease begins with plaque, which is always forming on your teeth without you even knowing it. When it accumulates to excessive levels, it hardens into a substance called tartar in as little as 24 hours. Tartar is so tightly bound to teeth that it can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two main stages of gum disease. Periodontal disease may progress painlessly producing a few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease.
Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. They include:
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing.
- Red swollen or tender gums.
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums.
- Loose or shifting teeth.
- Changes in the way teeth fit together on biting or in the fit of partial dentures.
What you can do to prevent gum disease is brush teeth regularly. This removes plaque and food debris on a daily basis. Many people brush their teeth but they neglect to floss. Flossing is important because it gets into those hard to reach places and removes sticky food particles that a tooth brush just can’t reach. Regular dental visits are important to stop any developing conditions that an untrained person cannot detect. In addition, any tartar build up from the hardening of plaque, can be removed and treated so that it does not advance to a more serious condition.
Smoking is one of the leading factors in the formation of periodontitis, which could serve as motivation for quitting.
Tracking It Down and Treating It
Gum disease can be sneaky, sometimes causing little or no pain or irritation before permanent damage is done to your teeth. That is why regular dentist visits are a must. With X-rays and a thorough examination, a dentist or dental hygienist can spot trouble before you know it’s there.
The earlier that gum disease is caught, the better. Adopting better brushing and flossing habits can usually reverse gingivitis. Sometimes your dentist will also prescribe antibiotics or a special antibacterial mouth rinse to tackle the problem.
Once someone develops periodontitis, it isn’t as easy to control. Usually there is widespread infection of the gums that need to be treated. This may require several special treatments either by a dentist or a periodontist, an expert who specializes in the care of gum disease.
Some of the ways dentists and periodontists may treat periodontitis are:
- Scaling or root planning. These deep-cleaning measures involve scraping and removing plaque and tartar from teeth above and below the gum line.
- Antibiotics. These and other medications are often used together with scaling and root planning to stop the spread of infection and inflammation in the mouth. They come in several different forms that range from medicated mouthwashes to antibiotic-containing gels or fibers that are placed in gum pockets to slowly kill bacteria and help gums to heal.
- Surgery. Advanced cases of periodontitis may require a dentist to open and clean badly diseased gum pockets, then stitch the gums back into place to fit more snugly around the teeth.
- Gingival grafting. If gum tissue is too diseased to sew back together, a dentist removes healthy gum tissue from another part of the mouth and stitches it into place. The graft replaces the diseased tissue and helps to anchor the teeth, giving them an improved appearance.
While undergoing treatment for periodontitis, its especially important to take special care of your teeth and gums to see lasting improvement. This includes flossing and brushing every day and quitting habits that means bad news for the mouth, such as smoking or eating sugary snacks between meals.
About the author
Jim Martinez is a National Sales Director with Ameriplan USA . Offering discount dental and health plans for individuals or households. Any age or prexisting conditions are accepted and plans start at only $14.95 per month. Be sure to visit the section on health articles for more quality information. You are free to reproduce this article as long as you reprint the entire article including this resource box and all links.